By Salman Yousafzai | Star Tribune,
Customers and proprietors are on edge at a popular Somali mall in Minneapolis a week after they say a drive-by shooting left the building riddled with bullets — and they say it’s the latest in a string of crimes.
Witnesses say the shooting occurred about noon May 13 and say they called police, but a police spokesman said no shooting had been reported.
Ahmed Hasan, 36, said he was working in a coffee shop in front of the Village Market, better known as the “24 Mall,” when he heard shooting. He went outside and saw a car peeling away. No injuries were reported.
Hasan said the shooting and other incidents like it are driving customers away from the market at 912 E. 24th St. The mall, filled with dozens of shops and restaurants, is popular among local Somalis.
The mall administration recently hired private security, Mohammad Amin said as he stood on the deck of a restaurant in the Village Market. Next to him, a pock mark showed where one of the bullets struck a building. Amin said that despite the security, shoppers are driven away by violence, drug peddlers and thieves.
Minneapolis police spokesman officer Corey Schmidt said there were no reports of shootings near the mall on that Saturday.
But it’s more than just shootings and violence, shop owners say. Nuisance crimes are also a problem.
“I had lost a lot of customers due to teenage drug dealers standing in front of our grocery shop,” said Ali Abdulha, manager of Sky Line Market, a bustling shop at the intersection where the shooting occurred.
Police department statistics show at least 82 calls for service from the mall this year, many in response to false alarms and trouble with customers. But there were five calls about car theft, one about shots fired and two about assaults. Others were calls about drug dealing.
Online records show police filed reports about two robberies and one theft near the mall in May. In one instance, a robber punched a victim and stole his cellphone. In another, someone stole a woman’s purse and ran away.
Groups of young drug dealers are also operating in the area openly, and despite calls to the police, cops are not taking proper action against them, Abdulha said.
“Nice people don’t come here for shopping as these teenagers blocked the front door of the shop,” Abdulha said.